March 15, 2011

Pre-Baby Blues

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Pregnancy is meant to be a joyous time. However, some women experience overwhelming 'baby blues' before the birth of their child. Anxiety and depression during pregnancy can result in premature birth, or low birth weight, and impact the child's health even into early school years. This study shows that a bad relationship with their husband or partner is the strongest predictor of maternal emotional distress.

A Norwegian study involving almost 50,000 moms-to-be looked at how these women felt about their work, family or partner, and compared their bouts of illness, alcohol, and smoking habits. The amount of support women received from their partners had the strongest link with mental health; those women who were most unhappy with their relationships and were the most likely to be depressed.

Illness and troubles at work were also linked to prenatal emotional distress as were problems with alcohol in the preceding year. However, a good relationship was a buffer against most everyday stresses. Women who were happy with their partner were better able to cope with difficulties at work, lack of money, or other stressful situations such as moving or being ill. While older mothers seemed to be better able to cope during pregnancy, young moms struggled more.

"Failure to recognize and treat emotional distress during pregnancy stores up problems for both mother and child, and impacts continuing family welfare," Gun-Mette Røsand from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health was quoted as saying.

"It is important that antenatal courses should include relationship classes and that close attention should be paid to women who lack the support of a good relationship."

SOURCE: BMC Public Health, published online March 13, 2011